August 2013 Archives

Kindergarten Code

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This is a guest blog from Guy Mucklow, CEO of Postcode Anywhere.

Can you name a cryptographic hash or explain what a nibble is? No? Well perhaps your kids will be able to help.

For too long now ICT on the school curriculum has been simply learning Microsoft Office and teaching children how to use technology rather than giving them insight into how it's created. However, in the last few months, it seems like tectonic plates are beginning to shift, with Education Secretary Michael Gove paving the way for a more rigorous computer science approach to the teaching of technology. According to the new curriculum guidelines, children as young as five will be taught the definition of algorithms, how to create and debug a simple computer program, and to recognise common uses of ICT.

Look around you. You'll see kids everywhere glued to their computer devices. They know how to navigate the latest technology better than most. Yet despite their obvious technological proficiency and countless hours playing games or on social networks, how many really understand how they actually work?

It has been argued that young children can't possibly understand the complexities of computing programming. But when it comes to acquiring a foreign language, there's no doubt that an early start can help. My friend's four year old bears a testament to this; he can rattle off a bunch of French phrases he's picked up without even blinking. This is because in our early development, we aren't genetically hard-wired to one particular language. This elasticity to learning is exactly the same for learning coding vernacular too.

Many companies in the technology industry are behind the initiative, saying that they are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit computer science graduates and programmers with the appropriate skills.

One company in particular is taking dramatic steps to help shape the future of the software industry. Postcode Anywhere, a Worcester-based technology company has set up its own technology foundation and is working closely with Code Club to help promote computing science in education.

Easy as Pi

Code Club is an extraordinarily successful after-school club which was set up to help children aged between nine and 11 develop programming skills. Children create their own computer games, robots and learn how to use technology creatively. There are now over 1,000 clubs operating in various locations throughout the UK. From Aberdeen to Plymouth in fact. This is expected to grow to over 5,000 clubs by the end of 2015. The organisation's overall objective is to give every child in the UK the chance to learn code.

As well as technology companies like Postcode Anywhere, the project has also received ringing endorsements from the father of the worldwide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

As an employer in the technology sector, introducing primary children to computing concepts in a creative and enjoyable way is important as it will provide encouragement and inspiration for students to take-up the study of computer science at higher levels.

Primary school children have brains like sponges; they mop up every bit of knowledge and are fearless when it comes to embracing a new skill. It's exciting to think of the amazing things they will develop in the future if they're already coding by the time they're 12.

For children to have a chance at becoming creators, not just consumers, of tomorrow's innovations, it will be critical to expand computer science education that inspires children from an early age.

Whether your child grows up to be the next Zuckerberg or not, the ability to understand basic programming concepts and think logically will prove invaluable. And it's not just all about maths, or weird syntax. It teaches pivotal problem-solving, creativity, and communication skills. Not to mention, the fun children have learning it.

For more details on Code Club and locations click on: http://codeclubbrightonmeetup.eventbrite.com/

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Taking back responsibility for skills within your organisation

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This is a guest blog by Deepak Jain, senior vice president and global head - work force planning and development at Wipro Technologies

 

Deepak Jain_preferred photo.jpgAccording to the CBI's (Confederation of British Industry) latest education and skills survey, businesses are finding that too many STEM-qualified applicants don't arrive rounded, grounded and ready for work (45%) and lack general workplace experience (39%).

 

The disconnect between what educational institutions offer and what the industry requires is frequently debated. Whilst the education community needs to work more closely with industry to establish where the gaps in education lie, companies also have to take more responsibility for developing their staff and future managers.

 

After all, most university degrees are first and foremost academic in focus and it cannot really be expected of a graduate to turn up at work on the first day with chiselled business know-how and a complete understanding of the world of work.

 

Closer collaboration with universities to give students the opportunities to undertake summer work experience roles, work placement years and graduate internships are a great way for young people to gain valuable experience in the job market.

 

This exactly why Wipro has set up the 'India Gateway' internship programme and we have just sent the first batch of UK engineering graduates to Bangalore for a nine months intensive internship programme. 19 students and graduates participate in the programme that will involve three months of a technology induction course, three months on the job training with Wipro teams, and a further three months working on live projects.

 

The added bonus of an internship abroad is that it allows the students to experience and learn about a new culture and develop the business and technical skills necessary to successfully work and collaborate in a globalised work environment - whether at Wipro or at another leading organisation.

 

"Our people are our most important asset" is an often used phrase; acknowledging this fact is of major importance, but it is even more important to continue to invest in that asset by investing in professional development, which should start at entry-level and finish at retirement. 

 

The not so obvious IT job: Finding the right IT career (highlighting various jobs available in IT)

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This is a guest blog from Val Atsu a director at Joseph Media.

 

val-photo (2).JPGIT is a colossal industry that affects almost every aspect of modern life.  

With salaries 1 and employment 2 on the rise, IT remains a great industry to enter.  However, despite its pervasive nature, many still view it as impenetrable. This is of course not true, IT possesses a massive range of jobs; you don't have to be an omniscient computer programmer to make a career for yourself.

 

Social Media Manager/Architect

 

As social media becomes more and more prominent in the modern world, it is little wonder that businesses are now beginning to reap its benefits. To this end companies are requiring specialised 'Social media architects/managers'. They are seeking confident, skilled communicators with good negotiation skills to manage and creatively enhance their presence in this sector.

 

Despite social business still being in its infancy, social media titles are already being redefined. As the divide between management and architecture increases, companies are beginning to also seek out those with a more technologically focused skill-set, capable of implementing social infrastructure for larger companies. This is not to say that 'social media managers' are not equally sought after. Both roles are necessary and as social media becomes further ingrained in world-culture, it is sure to be a sector of IT which continues to expand.

 

Technical Author

 

Also known as information designers, technical writers and technical communicators.

 

Technical authors explain technical information in a way that is easy to understand. This primarily involves interpreting technology (applications, programs, software etc.), and designing or creating relevant documentation. The documentation may be in a variety of different media, providing software demos and interactive tutorials in video, graphic or PowerPoint format.

 

There is a large focus on research and liaising with subject matter experts, sales and marketing specialist.  Collaboration with developers and the ability to work alongside translators, printers and service providers is also important.

 

Employers are looking for quick-learners with great research, organisation and presentation skills.

 

IT Security Manager

 

In this digital age, businesses that neglect to protect against cyber attacks leave themselves immensely vulnerable. Last year over a fifth of UK firms were hit by DDoS attacks3, intangible and crippling strikes that can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage.

 

Part of an IT security manager's job is to make sure this doesn't happen. From securing Wi-Fi networks to handling back-up storage and instigating policies for lost equipment; businesses worldwide are in need of a position dedicated to keeping sensitive data private. Security managers must understand that fraudsters will try to exploit minute weaknesses that no one considers.

 

Recent publicized incidents of lost laptops 4 as well as other devices containing confidential information demonstrate the need for this job. Employers are looking for people with a wealth of IT security experience, favouring those with military experience or a four-year degree.

 

Sound engineer/producer

 

Sound is an aspect of the IT industry often overlooked.  Despite this, the use of sound in any professional endeavour must adhere to ever-increasing industry standards. To this end, TV, radio, film, games, the web and multimedia projects are all increasingly requiring skilled sound designers to enhance their products.

 

Having experience in this area provides you with a range of opportunities to employ these skills. 'Anywhere that sound is used,' writes Brunel University lecturer, Alan Mannion, 'leaves opportunity for Digital Media experts to add sonic dimensions which stimulate "human emotional engagement" and elevate the user experience beyond a visual one.'

 

Possessing even a basic skill with sound production could prove immensely rewarding for those in creative technology and multimedia businesses.

 

 

1.      http://www.zdnet.com/it-salaries-will-improve-in-2013-says-report-7000009578/

2.      http://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-2/careers-in-growing-field-of-information-technology-services.htm

3.      http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240188089/More-than-one-fifth-of-UK-firms-hit-by-DDoS-attacks-in-2012

4.   http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/jun/12/defence.terrorism

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